Friday, June 25, 2010

Update on the "R" Word

Thanks to M at The Maybe Baby (Babies), I came upon some information about removing the "R" word. It's called "Rosa's Law," and it PASSED.

Professionals and laypeople will be using "intellectual disability" instead of "mentally retarded" in school and government-related business. You can bet that I'll continue trying to spread the word. In Caitlin's memory.


Names hurt
Labels break the spirit
Strike the heart like sticks and stones
Dare deny this truth with silence
Find it affirmed with words
Words can heal
Words matter

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Exploring Mindful Grief: MISS Foundation Conference

“Exploring Mindful Grief: A Journey for Families and Professionals”

* Online Early Bird Conference Registration – VISIT the Conference Website, by clicking here!

This unique conference is an education of both the mind and the heart. It is a rare opportunity for bereaved children, teens and adults to come together with compassionate professionals in a rare learning experience.

Who Should Attend?
Anyone bereaved as a result of a child's death should attend this conference. Additionally, social workers, psychologists, nurses, physicians, first responders, funeral directors, professors, school counselors, clergy and spiritual leaders, and anyone else who may encounter families experiencing a child's death should attend.

Speakers include:

Dr. Robert Neimeyer
Dr. Joanne Cacciatore 
Dr. Laura Umphre

(and little ol' me)
If you're planning to attend and part of this blogging community, I'd love to organize a way to connect. Send an email to and we can plan a morning coffee or evening beverage at the conference.  

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Day Visit to the Cemetery

I went to the cemetery on this beautiful summer day to visit Caitlin's grave. The sky was that picture perfect blue with white clouds to let you know it's real. I watched the clouds then moved to my car to listen to Rutter's "Mass for the Children." It was a peaceful visit, with no walkers, runners, or baby strollers. I was able to focus on my daughter. Then I kissed her stone and went home. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Words Come More Easily

The doorbell rings and I quickly answer it, hoping it's Keith to clean our gutters. Trees have been growing in the troughs again, and neither DH nor I have a love of ladders. It's not Keith, it's college undergrad selling children's "educational" materials.

"Hello, I'm here to talk with folks who have children."

"Ah, sorry, we don't have children." I step back to close the door with a smile.

"Well, then," he offers me an elbow, "congrats you escaped that."

"Oh, no," I keep my elbows to myself, "We had a child, but she died. We don't have any children living in our home."

He drops his elbow and stares at me, and stammers.

"Oh, oh, I'm sorry. I . . . "

"Thank you. How can I help?"

There's some part of me that tries to save the individual who's drowning in his/her own assumptions that if you have children--whoo hoo, and if you don't--whoo hoo. No one expects someone to merely explain that they have a dead child. But, you know what, I'm not silent anymore. Screw you, public. Live in your own sterile world. Mine is not sterile and I won't participate anymore. Words come more easily now. Caitlin has been gone nearly 3 years, but she's firmly entrenched in my life.

"Well, I'm a college intern, selling these children's educational books. Could you help me with which of your neighbors have children." He shows me a map of my neighborhood.

I predict he will be fine, if not highly successful, in his business endeavors. After all, he just learned to ask the dead baby mama about all the other parents with living children in the neighborhood. I comply.

"Neighbor next door is single (just suffered a divorce). Across the street and behind us are two widows (both who lost their husbands tragically after our daughter died). The neighbors next to them moved away because they lost their house in the flood, but the house next to theirs, the one that's for sale---they have loads of kids (that mom, dad, and in-laws yell at constantly, and the youngest screams daily at the top of his lungs)."

"Ah, thanks. . . I don't mean to be a pain, but we didn't bring any water with us. Do you have a bottle of water?"

I give him a bottle of water and send him on his way. Next time I answer the bell, I hope it's the college interns who offered deck washing and staining---oh, and powerwashing for siding.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Performing in Summer Pops in the Park--My Perfect Moment

I took this picture from the top of the choral risers before our gig began. It was a lovely evening.

There was a moon and I thought of Caitlin. You can see it in the upper left hand corner of the pic below.

If you'd like to check out more Perfect Moment Mondays go to Weebles Wobblog by clicking here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

RePost for DH on Father's Day

For Her Father

For the one who held me as I wailed
Who waited to release his pain
To be present with mine
Who understood
As I clung to his breathing body
That I was trying to fold myself into him
Searching and aching to find my child
Within him
Draining myself into his soul
Resting for a moment there

For the one who then
Entrusted his sorrows to me
Released tears that bathed my naked arm
Buried his head in my neck

I cherish you
Each other we find our child
For her essence
Lives in us

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Keep an eye out, especially those of you in the Pacific Northwest area. The tip-line is (503) 261-2847.

Dear Pregnant Women

Dear pregnant women who are friends of friends,

Ladies, I barely know you in real life, so please stop friending me on FaceBook just so you can increase the number of people who know that you are pregnant. I'm happy for you, but a bereaved mother is not the person who needs an update on your heartburn and other pregnancy troubles. I wish you a healthy pregnancy and a live baby. And now I must unfriend you. Peace.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Be Happy---No, I don't have to

There comes a time in life when you have to walk away from all the pointless drama and the people who create it, and surround your self with people who make you laugh so hard that you forget the bad and focus on the good. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Repost if you agree.

This is one of the latest FaceBook virus posts going around. But, as usual, I take everything at heart-level.
While I think walking away from pointless drama and those who foster it and surrounding oneself with creatively funny people who love life is a good thing, I DON'T think that "Life is too short to be anything but happy."

Joy lives with sadness. People who tell others how to feel with "be happy" are missing an important step toward feeling happiness--honoring sadness when it visits. It's unreasonable to think one can "be anything but happy"and a myth to think that one can abolish sadness.

Acknowledge and honor the sadness that enters your life and sit with those who feel sorrow and you'll find release. You'll find that neither sorrow nor joy stay forever, and then you'll be living----and you'll be happy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

We're Destroying our Mother

The images of oil poisoning our ocean has a visceral effect. We've developed technology that can destroy our oceans. So far it's destroying a good chunk of the gulf. Companies have done little research on how best to clean up our waters; they're using the latest--what was developed in the late 70s. They invested plenty for deeper drilling, and invested in marketing a novocaine of sorts for the general public, lulling us to think that they're taking their "stewardship" seriously.

We've demonized regulation and convinced our populace that "government is the problem." We've let the market decide and supported commerce over our environment. Government is made up of people with individual and collective interests, but it's the social mechanism that we have to take care of our populace and the mechanism we have to seek justice. It's not perfect, but I'm not ready to "take it back"--whatever that means--and give it blindly to commerce. Commerce can be healthy within confines.

Water is a symbol for life, as well as a necessity for life. I'm comforted by the knowledge that Mother Earth can self-correct over time. Many generations may pass before she self-corrects this one. But, I'm worried this time. Perhaps this latest assault on the earth will slip, as others have, into history, and we'll merely accept it the way it is.

But, I can't help but think that we are destroying our mother, and rendering her barren. I can't help but feel pain that the Earth has lost the role of nurturing what was once alive.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

If I Could

I would personally invite every person on this planet to stop using the "R" word as a punch-line. Next time it's about to escape your lips, use your own name---that's what it feels like to be berated for just being you. There are plenty of other words; get a thesaurus. ARGggggggg.

Here's what the National Down Syndrome Society says:
Use of the "R" Word
NDSS uses and encourages the use of person first language (i.e. 'a child with Down syndrome'). NDSS exclusively uses and encourages the use of the socially acceptable term "intellectual disability."
NDSS strongly condemns the use of the word "retarded" in any derogatory or inappropriate context. People with disabilities, like all people, deserve to be treated as valued citizens and not referred to in a hurtful manner for any purpose. Using the 'R word' is hurtful and suggests that people with disabilities are not competent. Negative and inaccurate public perceptions are the greatest barriers the National Down Syndrome Society faces in achieving acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome and other cognitive disabilities.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Question Changed

After Caitlin died, I didn't cut my hair or get those gray-hiding highlights. Not for any reason other than, all I was capable of doing was grieving. Crying, writing, reading, visiting her grave, pouring over condolence cards, holding her blanket, her cloths, and pictures. Grief work.

About a year later, the first visit to the hair dresser brought with it, unfortunately, fodder for more grief work. Sitting next to 8-month pregnant new mom, I tried to avoid hearing the conversation. I could avoid her answers, but I remember hearing the questions. "What is it?" "Is this your first?" "Did you pick out a name?"

My hairdresser, absent minded, though understandably so, asks me, "Do you have any children?" I told her yes, but that my daughter died shortly after birth. "I'm sorry" was followed by more questions, that I'm sure new mom was desperately trying not to hear. I left emotionally beaten--with an external look that no longer matched insides--a great cut with beautiful blond highlights.

Nearly every haircut since is accompanied by the question, "Do you have any children?" I always answer the same and then listen like an academic to how they react, what they say or ask or advise. Gratefully, everyone of them responded with a sincere "I'm sorry." Some will automatically recount someone they know or who knows someone who has lost a child . . . or lost something like a house or a pet. Some brush it off with suggestions that I "just have another" or "get a dog" or "you can always adopt"--they have no idea how difficult adoption can be.  Some gently ask what happened. They ask for her name. They ask how I'm doing.
Two days ago, I walked into a salon and sat down to get my haircut. But, this time the question changed. "So, how many children do you have?" "How odd," I think, "how could she possibly know that I was a mom? No one recognizes motherhood in a mom whose only child is dead." I give my usual answer and then settle into my academia. She was mortified and the "Oh, I'm sorry" nearly made her choke. I felt bad about that, but reason that empathy is good for people and helping people avoid a natural and appropriate response by lying and saying that I don't have children is bad for the human race. What I mean is, it's OK for her to feel. In short she recovered with "Are you going to have more? You can always adopt. Or get pets." While I wish that these statements could make me feel better. But until a hairdresser can bring my child back to life, I will forever endure their need to reach their own equilibrium upset by the knowledge that they now know someone whose baby died. I endure it because they need me to hear their efforts, it relieves that rock in their throat. I don't mind--anymore. I gently respond to each question, with silence. It's the best I can do. I'm at last successful with releasing both of us from the conversation with "Well, when you experience a tragedy like this, you learn to let life be as it is."

Then I leave the chair with a great haircut and smiling. Why smiling? Because someone assumed that I was a mom. She may have done this as a result of my non-highlighted hair--translation--because I'm old. But, "belief makes things real" and I'd like to believe that the assumption was a result of seeing that I carry Caitlin with me where ever I go.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I need say no more. Chocolate. The food of the gods that will cure my ill---well for the moment! Here's to simple pleasures of life. 'Cause sometimes--that's all we got!